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To The Other Side! When To Move From Freelancing To Employment

2013 November 26
by Annie Wallace

back-workTo most people working the corporate 9 to 5, the idea of being a freelancer sounds like a dream job. You can work outside in the sun if that strikes your fancy, or even next to a pool. You can start work at 5AM or 10 AM, no one is waiting for you to punch in. You can choose your clients and control your own business. It sounds like every working person’s fantasy!

Unfortunately, every silver lining has a dark cloud inside. For some, the idea of freelancing might be more appealing than the actual job itself. Some people find that, once they move to freelancing they are suddenly working more than ever before and earning less. Where they thought they would have more time to spend with family and friends, they now have to work evenings and weekends just to make ends meet. In between all the hours of work, there is still marketing yourself, building a client base, networking – it’s enough to make one wish for a holiday, except as a freelancer you don’t get paid holidays! It seems safe to say that freelancing might not be everyone’s cup of tea. So, when would you be better off in an employed position?

You want the perks

If you are freelancing, you have to forget about the “grey money” from the get-go. Working for a company usually allows you great benefits like pension, medical aid, housing coverage or other expenses that will now have to be reckoned into your budget. If you go out to see clients, you will have to cover your own gas money, and there will be no more company credit card to cover those business lunches. It’s all going to come from you because, as a freelancer you are your business. Another perk that will fall by the wayside is paid leave days. As a freelancer, even if you go away for a short period of time (because you can’t go off the grid for long, your clients will lose interest in your business if you aren’t readily available), you have to be prepared to do worky things while you are on holiday.

You function better under supervision

Call it a symptom of the smartphone generation, but a lot of us are borderline ADD. Especially if your computer is your centrepoint of income, you are always exposed to social media networks or amusing clips on YouTube. Distraction is always just one click away. If you find yourself getting lost in online distractions, or even outside ones (like your dog, the television, rearranging your book collection) then freelancing might be a tough cookie for you to crack. Some people just perform more optimally in an environment where certain guidelines are set as part of a team, where certain websites are blocked, or where other levels of management, even if just in their presence, are reminding you that your works needs to be done.

You’re not a people’s person

This one is a big no-no for freelancing. Though freelancing will soon prove the most anti-social form of work (you will spend most of your working hours alone), there is still a very important element to it where you will need your people skills to shine. Because you won’t be working for a boss anymore, you will now need to deal with clients directly. And sometimes, your clients will be horrible people. Sometimes they will be nice though. Seeing as they are now your source of income,  you will have to treat all of them with patience, respect and kindness. You will have to be efficient with your correspondence and consistent with your quality of work. You will need to negotiate rates, brainstorm ideas and liaise with other creatives. Having good people skills will drive your personal brand to the next level, but if you are not so comfortable interacting with others, an office job might be more suited for you.

Persistence is not your forte

To make it as a freelancer, you’re going to need the persistence of a hungry mosquito. Sometimes you will spend time and effort on projects that fall flat. Sometimes you will go through phases of rejection. Sometimes you will be tired and all your friends or family will be out having a blast while you have to stay to complete a project that will cover your rent. You will need persistence and determination to succeed as a freelancer, especially at the beginning. Hard work, diligence, enthusiasm – it will all pay off in the end, but it might be a rocky journey to that point of financial freedom.

If reading the last paragraph left you exhausted, better dust of that resume, my friend. Hongkiat gives some more insights on why you should not freelance. But if the independence excites you, if the uncertainty thrills you, then get out your personal computer, pull up a chair to wherever you like and let us wish you all the luck in your road to becoming a successful freelancer.

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